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Launching a new basketball club with the Be Active Wales Fund

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After more than a decade without a basketball club in Merthyr Tydfil, the town is now home to the Merthyr Mustangs!

With a junior section catering for 7 to 16 year-olds as well as a senior team, the Mustangs have been created to meet rising local demand for basketball.

Sport Wales has supported the club’s development so far by awarding a £13,482 Be Active Wales grant – which uses funding from The National Lottery – to pay for new hoops which are being used by the Mustangs’ senior team.

Volunteer Simon Thornley – who played for the former Merthyr Basketball Club before they folded around 14 years ago – is the driving force behind the new club, which has received support from Sport Wales and Active Merthyr Tydfil.

Simon said: “Basketball gave me lots of fantastic experiences growing up, so I really wanted to provide similar opportunities for the youngsters of today as well as giving adults a chance to play the sport competitively in Merthyr again. 

“The response so far from both the kids and adults has shown how important it is to have basketball back in the town. Having both a junior section and an adult team is really important as it means there’s a pathway for young players to continue in the sport as they get older.

“We are also working in collaboration with Merthyr College to train students to become coaches, referees, and officials. This way, the club can become more sustainable, provide lots of opportunities both on and off the court, and help more members of the local community to have the chance to fall in love with basketball. We’re also planning to introduce a women’s team this year.” 

Basketball gave me lots of fantastic experiences growing up, so I really wanted to provide similar opportunities for the youngsters of today
Simon Thornley

Sport Wales has supported the club’s development so far by awarding a £13,482 Be Active Wales grant – which uses funding from The National Lottery – to pay for new hoops which are being used by the Mustangs’ senior team.

The results of Sport Wales’ School Sport Survey have also played a role in the formation of the club, as Dan Bufton, Sport Development Manager for Active Merthyr Tydfil, explained: “The School Sport Survey is really important to us as it helps us get an idea of community needs and where the gaps are in terms of sport provision. 

“This year’s survey confirmed that basketball continues to be one of the sports which local young people enjoy and want to have more chances to play. Basketball opportunities have been lacking in Merthyr Tydfil for quite some time now so we’re really pleased to support the Merthyr Mustangs’ development.”

Brian Davies, the Acting CEO of Sport Wales, said: “The Merthyr Mustangs story is a great example of a local authority acting on the School Sport Survey results and working with a passionate individual to help set up a club that meets local sporting needs. The School Sport Survey results suggest that there are around 175,000 pupils in Wales who are currently participating in organised sport less than three times a week outside of their PE lessons, for one reason or another, but who want to be doing more. This suggests huge potential for sports clubs and organisations to tap into.”

Brian added: “The Be Active Wales Fund is there to help fund equipment, pay for volunteers to become qualified coaches, and more, so please visit the page for more details.”

Thanks to players of The National Lottery, more than £30 million a week goes to good causes around the UK through initiatives such as Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund. To find out how the funding can be used to help develop more sporting opportunities for all members of your local community, visit our Funding and Support page.

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